Archives

Home is Burning

Dan’s mom has always had cancer. First diagnosed when he was only ten years old, she was the model of resilience throughout his childhood, fighting her disease with tenacity and a mouth foul enough to make a sailor blush. But just as she faces a relapse, her husband—a successful businessman and devoted father—is diagnosed with ALS. He is told that in a few months’ time, he will be unable to walk, eat, or breathe on his own. Dan, a recent college graduate living the good life in Los Angeles, has no choice but to return home to help. Reinstalled in his parents’ basement (in one of the only non-Mormon homes in a Salt Lake City subdivision), Dan is reunited with his siblings. His older sister Tiffany is resentful, having stayed closer to home to bear the brunt of their mother’s illness. Younger brother Greg comes to lend a hand, giving up a journalism career and evenings cruising Chicago gay bars. Younger sister Michelle is a sullen teenager experimenting with drinking and flirting with her 35-year-old soccer coach. And baby sister Chelsea—the oddest duck in a family of misfits—can only think about dance. Together they form Team Terminal, going to battle against their parents’ illnesses and cracking plenty of jokes along the way.

The Forgetting Time

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four-year-olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now—and life as she knows it stops. For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought—I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychiatry, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson lost the respect of his peers, but he didn’t care—something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years—and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Sharon Guskin has written a captivating, thought-provoking novel that explores what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between. In equal parts a mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, The Forgetting Time marks the debut of a major new talent.

The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History

Conceived as a fundraiser for the restoration of King Louis XIV’s palace, the world’s elite gathered in Versailles’ grand theater to view a fashion extravaganza of the best that French and American designers had to offer, while being entertained by Liza Minnelli and Josephine Baker. What they saw would forever alter the history of fashion.

At the Battle of Versailles five Americans—Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, and Stephen Burrows—faced off against the five French designers considered the best in the world—Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro, and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior. Against all odds, the American energy and the domination by their fearless models (ten of whom, in a ground-breaking move, were African-American) sent the audience reeling. By the end of the evening, the Americans had transformed their place on the world stage and sowed the seeds for changing the way race, gender, sexuality, and economics would be treated in fashion for decades to come.

The in-fighting between ego-inflated designers, the unforeseen obstacles in staging the show on a shoestring, the triumphant win, the vastly different fates of the designers post-show—Robin Givhan’s meticulous research brings the event alive and places it firmly in the history of fashion, offering an intimate examination of a single moment that teaches us how the culture of fashion as we now know it came to be.

 

Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime

“I’m getting a life’s lesson about grace from my mother in the ICU. We never stop learning from our mothers, do we?”

When NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon began tweeting from his mother’s hospital room in July 2013, he didn’t know that his missives would soon spread well beyond his 1.2 million followers. Squeezing the magnitude of his final days with her into 140-character updates, Simon’s evocative and moving meditations spread virally. Simon chronicled his mother’s death and reflected on her life, revealing her humor and strength, and celebrating the love of family. The world hung on Simon’s every word and his mother’s eventual passing made national news, attracting attention from international news media like the Today Show, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.

Inspired by those famous tweets, in Unforgettable, Simon offers a deeply affecting, heart-wrenching memoir. His mother was a glamorous woman of the Mad Men-era who worked in nightclubs, modeled, dated mobsters and movie stars, and was a brave single parent to young Scott Simon. Simon’s memories are laced with her humor and strength and gives voice to the experience we all have of confronting our parents’ deaths. Unforgettable is one man’s moving tribute to his mother’s colorful life and graceful death, but it is also a powerful portrait of the universal bond between mother and child.